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  • Writer's pictureEmily Day

Customized Wedding Song Requests - a boutique service

Updated: Jun 27

Wedding couple first dance

Customized song requests are the majority of our focus in the months leading up to your wedding. We dedicate countless hours outside of your wedding day to listen, learn, transcribe, modify, adapt, edit, arrange, chart, notate, reharmonize and rehearse your special requests. This effort makes the resulting performance a fully customized and boutique service. This also helps to scratch our creative itches when we experience our dizzying summer wedding schedules. We don't keep our busy schedule a secret - we want you to know that we are in demand and that you can trust that we are experienced, but we also want you to believe that your wedding is the only one that matters. Having a unique arrangement of a meaningful song is how we accomplish this.

Customized Requests From Real Weddings:

Brian & Evan’s First Dance - "Run Away with Me" - Carly Rae Jepson.

I'm not going to use this platform to bemoan the downfall of pop music - you can find numerous critiques from every decade bashing the current and lauding the last. But I will say the songs from the last 15 years offer us unique challenges. For one, their production doesn't often use real instruments, using midi and synth instead to create layers and washes. They will also often incorporate drum machines, programing a complex beat that may be too fast for a human to play consistently. Still, there is something left over when all the production is stripped away: the melody. This is where Carly’s song shines. For a melody written over the same four chords, it really has a lovely build, arc, and definitive sections.

Singing the melody is one thing. But how to adapt this to a band that has jazz sensibilities? Well the surprise was in the song’s beat. The drum (machine?) in this song is essentially playing a fast shuffle. Each larger beat is broken into three smaller beats (a triplet), and only every other larger beat gets the stress. This means that a possible re-adaptation of the song could be like a 12/8 soul ballad - think “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke or “At Last” by Etta James. We play these songs all the time. Now I had the backbone to our version.

The underlying harmony of the original serves the song well as a dance-pop tune. It floats around without every really landing on the tonic. I paid homage to the original in the beginning to this reimagination. But with a slower tempo more appropriate for a first dance, I get an opportunity to insert some harmony where there was none - cadencing to the relative minor for a mood change, making sure to keep the melody, but just highlighting it in a very different way.

The result is a 2-minute long gospel-inspired soul ballad. Brian & Evan’s first time hearing it on the day of their wedding. A unique arrangement never performed before. Hear Emily & Carnegie perform this song as a duo.

Special skills required to pull this off: Transcription, Composition, Imagination, Piano, Music Theory, Reharmonization.

Bri & Greg - Grand Entrance into First Dance - "It Had To Be You" - Harry Connick Jr.

Custom wedding song

Bri and Greg had originally wanted their first dance to be based off of Harry Connick Jr.'s version from When Harry Met Sally. That original recording was arranged for a big band with strings. It also included a rather dramatic fanfare intro, taking up the first 30 seconds of the recording. We all agreed that the fanfare wasn't really important enough to be included, and when eliminated left us with a 2 minute song - the perfect length for a first dance. I told them that they could practice along with the original recording (minus the first 30 seconds) and we would take care of the rest.

The song's tag ending was a little out of the ordinary, so I decided to transcribe the horn lines in the original recording for just that section. Now by transcribe, I mean pull out the most salient line of what could be a 12-16 piece horn section. Harry Jr. sings the song in a key about as far away from my register as possible, so I had to make sure that the horn lines, when transposed to my key, have the same sort of impact. Often times that means that the horn lines in the new key may start to infringe on each horns' upper range.

Bri & Greg also requested a song to accompany their Grand Entrance - they chose "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" a song that we often recommend for this moment. After looking over their preliminary timeline, I learned that the first dance was to be timed right after the couple's grand entrance - they would be announced and walk straight to the dance floor. I asked the planner how long their path would be and she said "about five steps". I quickly decided that we needed to change course - there's not enough time to perform two separate songs for this moment.

We scrapped the idea of the Stevie song and instead I composed a new intro to "It Had To Be You", befitting of a Grand Entrance. The horns would play a big band-style version of the melody for about 15 seconds and then the band would transition into a vamp section. I told the couple that, with the new intro, they could bask in their grand entrance for a little longer, and then begin their first dance when my vocals enter. It's a good thing I included that vamp because they paraded themselves (rightfully so) all the way around the dining room before returning to the dance floor.

Special skills required to pull this off: Transcription, Composition, Knowledge of Notation Software, Horn Articulation, Theater, Sight Reading, Band Leading, Event Management, Attention to Detail.


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